A prominent agent has called on politicians to scrap the Renters Reform Bill .
He says it’s “ill thought-through and would be detrimental to both landlords and tenants.”
Michael Cook, group managing director of the Leaders Romans Group, makes the dramatic plea not just to the government but to all politicians as they begin their conference season this week.
He says: “The removal of Section 21 is unnecessary and damaging. Our research shows Section 21 is rarely used for ‘no fault evictions’ and, as Shelter has said, the abolition of Section 21 won’t end unfair or no-fault evictions where they do occur.
“It is proposed that Section 8 of the Housing Act will replace Section 21 but this will create less, not more security for tenants. It will also mean many more cases going through the courts which is costly, stressful and prone to considerable delay.
“We know there is widespread concern as to how the courts will facilitate effective possession hearings under these new grounds.”
He says another feature of the Bill - moving all assured shorthold tenancies onto a single system of periodic tenancies - would significantly reduce security for both landlord and tenants, spelling the end of long term contacts and replacing them with just two months’ notice.
Cook says: “Abolishing clear fixed term tenancies seem to contradict the government’s objective to provide families the ability to put down roots in local communities with the security of knowing they have certainty of tenancy for in most cases one year, but often two or three.”
“Any detrimental changes to the sector could force landlords to leave the sector which would impact on supply, force rents up further and exacerbate homelessness.”
One of his colleagues - Allison Thompson, national lettings managing director of Leaders Romans Group - says an additional key priority for politicians should be the repeal of Section 24, which removes a landlord's right to deduct the majority of their costs, including mortgage interest and arrangement fees, from their rental income before calculating their tax liability.
She says Section 24 is directly responsible for higher rents which contribute to hardship and homelessness.
“Over 29,000 landlords signed a recent petition calling on the government to reverse Section 24, but the government confirmed they would continue to set mortgage interest relief against rental income only at the basic rate of tax” she says.
“Due to substantially increased costs - not only of property finance, but of energy and building materials - this change is much needed.”
Thompson adds that politicians should also give greater priority to the creation of dedicated housing courts.
“Landlords are facing widespread and serious delays in the courts when seeking to regain possession of their properties” she comments.
“This will be exacerbated in future if the Renters Reform Bill is enacted, removing Section 21 of the Housing Act and replacing it with Section 8.
“A dedicated housing court would be the best way to address this serious backlog.”